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New York Times, Saturday, May 11, 2019

Author:
Robyn Weintraub
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
213/28/20115/11/20190
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02320113
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1.58000
Robyn Weintraub

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 70, Blocks: 32 Missing: {JQX} This is puzzle # 21 for Ms. Weintraub. Jeff Chen's Puzzle of the Week pick. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Robyn Weintraub notes:
This puzzle went through not one, but two rounds of revisions. The first time I needed to get rid of a bunch of unimpressive fill in ... read more

This puzzle went through not one, but two rounds of revisions. The first time I needed to get rid of a bunch of unimpressive fill in the SE corner, which included ESAI, SHIA, ENLAI and other junk — but which held together, amongst other things, the totally adorable entry I LOVE TRASH, a favorite tune of mine by Oscar the Grouch. Sorry Oscar...

The second revision was requested because my solution to fixing the unimpressive fill in the SE corner unfortunately yielded a series of unimpressive longer entries. It was hardly my best work, and I completely understand why Will sent the grid back again (and thankful that he gave me the opportunity to revisit it one more time).

Ultimately I had to pull out about half the grid and experiment with endless variations of cheater squares to get something that scored both high on my "that's cute" meter and low on the "dreck" meter. Fortunately, it finally came together and I'm pleased with the puzzle you're seeing here today. I hope you like it too. Happy solving!

Jeff Chen notes:
A month ago, Robyn became the first woman to make the finals puzzle for the ACPT. And it was a beaut! She's got such an excellent ... read more

A month ago, Robyn became the first woman to make the finals puzzle for the ACPT. And it was a beaut! She's got such an excellent aptitude for selecting long entries that delight.

Today's was another win in her string (theory) of great puzzles. STRING THEORY – clued to "The Big Bang Theory," without actually duplicating "theory" in the clue! EVIL GENIUS! SCHNITZEL, such a funny sounding word. INNER PEACE.

LAST PLACE's clue cleverly misdirects. [Rough finish]? Last is a rough way to finish, indeed. It's even more devious once you note that MATTE is in the puzzle too, subconsciously tipping you toward thinking about photo finishes.

Er, finishes of photos. Not races. A double-cross misdirect!

Beautiful disguises for Gal and Berry, their capital letter hidden at the first word of the clue. There have to be tons of gals in superhero movies. And berries featured in cosmetic ads. D'oh! That's Gal GADOT and HALLE Berry.

Speaking of great clues, [One may get stuck in an office] isn't an overworked person, but a POST IT NOTE. STICK SHIFT – a manual shift – employs the common term [Car owner's manual?] in its clue. Two fantastic entries in their own right, made even better by wickedly sharp clues.

Even two ho-hum shorties got the star treatment through great cluing. [Message on a tablet] – a drug company's tagline? Nope, that's an EMAIL on an iPad or Surface tablet. I must admit I groaned when I figured out that SEALY (a big mattress brand) was literally for the "rest of the people." But it was a good sort of groan.

I had so much fun solving this one that it made me want to figure out why. It's not often that I feel like I have a lot to learn from any one constructor, but Robyn's ability to entertain and elate through her themelesses is astounding. She's caused me to rethink my own philosophies on creating themelesses.

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© 2019, The New York TimesNo. 0511 ( 25,386 )
Across
1
Great Texas hold 'em hand, informally : TRIPS
6
Average : SOSO
10
It has spinoffs set in New Orleans and Los Angeles : NCIS
14
Title character in a 2006 mockumentary : BORAT
15
Menace following Captain Hook around, for short : CROC
16
Grave matter : BONE
17
Car owner's manual? : STICKSHIFT
19
Broadway character who sings "Shall We Dance?" while she dances : ANNA
20
One might get stuck in an office : POSTITNOTE
21
Emergency contact form abbreviation : TEL
22
Field of study for TV physicist Sheldon Cooper : STRINGTHEORY
25
Something enjoyed during elevenses : TEA
28
Abstract unit of exchange : TAT
29
Review the highlights of : SUMUP
30
Like a wide load : OVERSIZED
34
Revealed : BARED
36
Artist given the 1958 Guggenheim International Award : MIRO
37
Neighbor of 5-Down : NEVIS
39
Noncommittal response : IMAY
40
Glitzy embellishment : BLING
42
Rough finish : LASTPLACE
44
Gal in a superhero movie : GADOT
46
___ qué : POR
47
Walker, briefly : PED
48
Unlucky phrase to end on : HELOVESMENOT
52
"Star Wars" nickname : ANI
53
Stuffed shirts? : SCARECROWS
57
Not get some Z's, say? : LISP
59
"Hmm ..." : LETSSEENOW
60
Instrument broken over Hortensio's head in "The Taming of the Shrew" : LUTE
61
Status quo ___ : ANTE
62
Parts of pelvises : SACRA
63
Italian pronoun : ESSA
64
Quinoa, e.g. : SEED
65
Soak : STEEP
Down
1
Rx dose: Abbr. : TBSP
2
Picture section in old newspapers : ROTO
3
Greek goddess of the rainbow : IRIS
4
Bargains : PACTS
5
Neighbor of 37-Across : STKITTS
6
Veal dish : SCHNITZEL
7
Constellation that includes Bellatrix : ORION
8
Giraffe's sound? : SOFTG
9
Sets of black or white pawns, e.g. : OCTETS
10
Court org. : NBA
11
Two-dimensional rendering of three-dimensional terrain : CONTOURMAP
12
Ataraxia : INNERPEACE
13
Brand for the rest of the people? : SEALY
18
Variation : STRAIN
23
Likely spot for a layover : HUB
24
Message on a tablet, say : EMAIL
25
Setting for the very end of "Aida" : TOMB
26
Enemy who's difficult to outsmart : EVILGENIUS
27
Some swingers : AERIALISTS
31
Repetitive movement in a sonata : RONDO
32
Children's author Ibbotson : EVA
33
Went in all different directions : DISPERSED
35
Not natural : DYED
38
Jeweler's cache : STONES
41
URL ending : GOV
43
Set of steps : PROCESS
45
Sights at charging stations : TESLAS
48
Berry featured in cosmetics ads : HALLE
49
Conspicuous thing to make : SCENE
50
Lacking luster : MATTE
51
Bonbon, e.g. : TREAT
54
"Time was ..." : ONCE
55
Exhausted, with "out" : WORE
56
Give and take, say : SWAP
58
Cause of storybook insomnia : PEA

Answer summary: 3 unique to this puzzle.

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